Tell Yourself (White) Lies

 By   Shlomo Maital  

   I was lucky to watch on TV one of tennis’s all-time great matches, while at a conference in Switzerland. In the Wimbledon final, Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) in 5 long sets – longest final match in Wimbledon history. The final set went to a 12-12 tie, and, by the rules, to a tie-breaker, which Djokovic won 7-3. The match lasted nearly 5 hours!

      The crowd was one-sidedly cheering for the 37-year-old Federer, even (rudely) at times cheering Djokovic’s misses and flubs.

       Later, Djokovic explained how he overcame the psychological disadvantage of having the crowd nearly unanimously against him.  

       I pretended they were cheering for me, not for him, he explained.

       What? Tell yourself a bald lie? Fool yourself? Deceive yourself?

       Well, why not! When you’re in a tight spot, or even when you’re not, it is entirely allowed, and even desirable, to tell yourself white lies – narratives that pull you through.

         For instance — you’re on a long flight, scrunched into an Economy seat, nearly no leg room – and the ADHD 10-year-old behind you is slamming your seat back incessantly, playing a video game on the touch screen. For three hours. And he just won’t stop.

         The white lie? “this is good for me. I’m learning resilience, endurance, patience. I’m learning from suffering. It will come in handy one day.”

   Try it. Tell yourself a white lie. Try hard to believe it.

     And if people say, stop kidding yourself!   Ask them, innocently:

     Why?